My Top 5 Places To Visit In The American West That Aren’t The Grand Canyon


With Earth Day on April 22nd, National Parks Week on April 21st & summer right around the corner, I thought I’d put together some of my top places to visit in & around the State & National Parks.

I came to know the Western US pretty well during the 2+ months I spent traveling 14,000 miles in an Airstream trailer throughout 21 of our Parks to create my series Shadows Alight & In Transit , so this list reflects my journey.

These are my top five places to see:


SHI SHI BEACH, WASHINGTON

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It’s hard to imagine there’s anywhere in the US that offers the same sense of pure isolation as Shi Shi Beach.

Located in Olympic National Park, far North on the Pacific Coastline and only reachable by hike, this remote stretch of beach offers pristine Northwestern scenery.

The coast is occasionally dotted with rock formations that feel as if they fell from Earth centuries ago – my image Sea Stacks was taken here. I spent hours upon hours here walking this stretch of beach, camera in hand, while admiring the swirling pools of water teaming with small signs of life.


ONEONTA GORGE, OREGON

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The US Forest Service has designated the Oneonta Gorge as a botanical area and it’s easy to see why. Located at the foot of the Columbia River Gorge, this area has some of the most dramatic and breathtaking landscapes and it offers dozens of idyllic & secluded scenes ready to discover. Incredibly scenic yet easy to maneuver trails, a high density of waterfalls and the lush vegetation also made this area one of of my favorites. Images like Fairy Falls & others featuring waterfalls were taken here.


CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, UTAH

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I liked Canyonlands better than the Grand Canyon because besides having way less tourists, this park is home to Island in the Sky, a mesa that boasts some of the most jaw-dropping scenes of our Western territories. The intense color of the desert was only met by the power of the sun; it felt like some sort of Earthly energy was echoing throughout the land.


ANTELOPE CANYON, ARIZONA

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These flowing canyons are only matched by the beams of ethereal light that shine through them throughout the day. You can also feel the power of the millions of gallons of water that once rushed through these chambers, carving them out into beautiful organic forms over thousands upon thousands of years.

My images of canyons, like Canyon Study I , were taken here. I also loved that you could easily drive past these canyons without knowing they exist – they may not be on a every tourist route but they are certainly on my must-see itinerary.

Due to tourist traffic, be sure to get there early or try and find an off season time to go.


POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, CALIFORNIA

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I had sought this area out because of its cypress tree tunnel (in case you missed it, I discussed it last week in our monthly feature “A Moment in Time ”). From open grassland and forest to expansive beaches, this land was truly vast, diverse and breathtaking beyond my wildest dreams. Because of its vicinity to San Francisco, it’s an easy day trip with a beautiful drive.

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